Cosplay has certainly changed with the times. Of course, now it’s easy to get into cosplay and you can make new friends and experiences with it. Originally a hobby for fans, now cosplay is a whole Industry, with streamlined cosplay products, social media status, and more.
Cosplay actually originated in the US in the late 1930s, and not Japan. It wasn’t until 1984 that the term “cosplay” was invented, when Nobuyuki Takashi, a Japanese reporter, attended WorldCon in Los Angeles. Eventually it made its way into Japan and started to soar, from being a passionate hobby to full blown industry and more. Cosplay in the US would also increase in the 90s and early 2000s but has sky rocketed now. While cosplaying anime characters was the norm, you can also cosplay your favorite video games, comic books, and more.
I still remember the time during the late 90s and early 2000s when cosplay was a growing subculture. It was pure, creative, and very passionate. You can make a lot of friends when cosplaying. Now there has been a huge surge with the growth of social media. Now cosplayers have dedicated social media accounts, fan sites, and more. We now have popular cosplayers that get invited/featured at conventions, some even serving as guest cosplay judges. Every picture uploaded and liked could inspire others to do the same. They don’t have to be at a convention to get inspired to cosplay, they can just look it up online with pictures and videos. Passion can help inspire passion and we are seeing it year after year.
Since cosplay is skill based, everyone’s first cosplays won’t be the best, but it will lead them to further refine their craft. Sometimes you have people not wanting to go through the process so they are willing to buy their cosplays. This not only causes an increased demand with cosplayers, but creates businesses to make cosplays. These include streamlined stores and manufacturing companies in Japan, China, and more that ship around the world. You can go to dedicated websites to buy a full cosplay, wigs, accessories and more. Other sites including Esty and Ebay are also places to check out. With this it’s not hard to think why this Industry is a billion dollar Industry. It’s to a point there even major brands are taking notice and having sponsorships too. Companies are using cosplayers to help promote their products, especially video games and anime/manga series. You have fabric stores also taking notice and selling “cosplay” related fabrics. The 3D printing industry is getting a boost due to the fact that people are using them to create pieces to their cosplays. The Industry has been growing to meet the demand and it’s only going to keep increasing.
What started off as a passionate hobby in the US in the early days, and grew into its own in Japan, and now world-wide phenomenon. As cosplayers grow as a community more and more, the demand for creating cosplays will also increase. There have been many successful businesses and cosplayers making a living doing this, whether cosplaying, creating cosplays, or social media.